Edward Pease (railway entrepreneur)

Edward Pease (railway entrepreneur)


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Edward Pease, the son of a wool merchant, was born in Darlington on 31st May, 1767. Pease attended markets and rode round the country buying the fleeces from the farmers and selling the finished woven pieces to London merchants.

When Pease reached the age of fifty he retired from the family business and began to concentrate on his idea of starting a public railway. On his travels buying and selling wool, Pease came to the conclusion that there was a great need for a railroad with waggons drawn by horses to carry coal from the collieries of West Durham to the port of Stockton. In 1821 Pease and a group of businessmen from the area formed the Stockton & Darlington Railway company.

On 19th April 1821 an Act of Parliament was passed that authorized the company to build a horse railway that would link the collieries in West Durham, Darlington and the River Tees at Stockton. Nicholas Wood, the manager of Killingworth Colliery, and his enginewright, George Stephenson, met Pease and suggested that he should consider building a locomotive railway. Stephenson told Pease that "a horse on an iron road would draw ten tons for one ton on a common road". Stephenson added that the Blutcher locomotive that he had built at Killingworth was "worth fifty horses".

That summer Pease took up Stephenson's invitation to visit Killingworth Colliery. When Pease saw the Blutcher at work he realised George Stephenson was right and offered him the post as the chief engineer of the Stockton & Darlington company. It was now now necessary for Pease to apply for a further Act of Parliament. This time a clause was added that stated that Parliament gave permission for the company "to make and erect locomotive or moveable engines".

In 1823 Edward Pease joined with Michael Longdridge, George Stephenson and his son Robert Stephenson, to form a company to make the locomotives. The Robert Stephenson & Company, at Forth Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, became the world's first locomotive builder. Stephenson recruited Timothy Hackworth, one of the engineers who had helped William Hedley to produce Puffing Billy, to work for the company. The first railway locomotive, Locomotion, was finished in September 1825.

The Stockton & Darlington Railroad was opened on 27th September, 1825. Edward Pease missed the opening day celebrations as his son Isaac had died the previous night. Large crowds saw George Stephenson at the controls of the Locomotion as it pulled a series of wagons filled with sacks of coal and flour. The train also included a purpose built railway passenger coach called the Experiment. All told, over 500 people travelled in the train that reached speeds of 15 mph (24 kph). This meant that for the first time in history, a steam locomotive had hauled passengers on a public railway.

When Pease retired he was replaced by his son Joseph Pease. He expanded the business and by 1830 had bought up enough local collieries to become the largest colliery owner in the whole of the South Durham coalfield. In 1832 Pease became Britain's first Quaker MP when he was elected to represent South Durham.

Pease, a member of the Society of Friends, supported the Anti-Slavery movement. He also supported Elizabeth Fry in her campaign for prison reform. Edward Pease died on 31st July, 1858.

Edward Pease was a thoughtful and sagacious man, ready in resources, possessed of indomitable energy and perseverance; he was eminently qualified to undertake what appeared to many the desperate enterprise of obtaining an Act of Parliament to construct a railway.

I am glad to learn that the Parliament Bill has been passed for the Darlington Railway. I am much obliged by the favourable sentiments you express towards me, and shall be happy if I can be of service in carrying into execution your plans.

Edward Pease promoted the first railway in the kingdom and under difficulties almost inconceivable at the present day. In consequence of such means of locomotion, sources of wealth have been developed, the entire kingdom advanced, and the convenience of the public wonderfully increased. Mr. Pease has directly and indirectly been the means of developing to an extraordinary extent the mineral wealth of the district in particular, and thereby stimulating every branch of trade and commerce in the country at large.

Left home in company with John Dixon to attend the internment of George Stephenson at Chesterfield. I fear he died an unbeliever. When I reflect on my first acquaintance with him and the resulting consequences my mind seems lost in doubt as to the beneficial results - that humanity has been benefited in the diminished use of horses and by the lessened cruelty to them, that much ease, safety, speed, and lessened expense in travelling is obtained, but as to the results and effects of all that railways had led my dear family into, being in any sense beneficial is uncertain.


Rival railway museums in row over steam locomotive ownership

A row has broken out between rival railway museums over the ownership of the world’s first passenger steam locomotive.

Darlington council wants Locomotion No 1 to stay in the town’s Head of Steam Museum but the National Railway Museum (NRM), which owns the locomotive, wants to move it 10 miles away to Locomotion, its museum in Shildon.

The engine is a unique souvenir of Britain’s pioneering role in the development of rail transport in the early 19th century and has been on display in Darlington for 163 years.

In 1968, responsibility for all British Rail’s historic items was awarded to the NRM, now part of the Science Museum Group (SMG). Since 1975, Locomotion No 1 has been subject to a loan agreement that allows the engine to be exhibited at Head of Steam in Darlington, while the NRM retains ownership rights.

Peter Gibson, the MP for Darlington, said: “This is not a dispute over the legal ownership.” Rather, he said, it is about “the location and presentation” of the engine. “Locomotion No 1 is central to Darlington’s cultural identity. It features on the town’s coat of arms and on the badges of our football and rugby clubs, and moving it to a shed in Shildon would certainly damage our standing within the story of British locomotion.”

Gibson does not agree that Darlington council has a responsibility to return the locomotive to NRM as they are the rightful owners. “It’s an insult in and of itself because ‘return’ implies previous possession. The National Railway Museum owns the locomotive due to an accident of history.

“Much of the original finance came from Edward Pease, a Darlington man, and it has been on display in Darlington for 163 years … You wouldn’t remove the crown jewels from the Tower of London.”

The current loan agreement runs until 31 March 2021, but with the forthcoming 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington railway in 2025, who gets to display the locomotive during the bicentennial celebrations is at the heart of the dispute.

A memorandum of understanding which would have allowed both parties to display Locomotion No 1 in 2025 was almost agreed last week but talks have since broken down.

Andrew McLean, the head curator for the NRM, expressed frustration that over a year of negotiations had not produced an agreement. He likened Darlington council’s refusal to return the engine to “borrowing a car from a car rental place and refusing to give your car back”, adding: “It sets a potentially dangerous precedent that borrowers start to question the return of legitimate loans to their legitimate owners.”

In response, Heather Scott, the leader of Darlington council, said: “That’s absolutely appalling we’ve had a contract that’s been renewed every five years. Why are they deciding to have a problem with our agreement now with 2025 looming? It’s been in the town for 163 years and we’ve looked after it this whole time without the need for Science Museum funding.”

Dr Sarah Price, the head of Locomotion in Shildon, said: “As we head towards the once-in-a-lifetime railway anniversaries of 2025, we want the whole of the UK – and the world – to turn its attention towards the north-east, where the world’s railway history was forged. To do that, we all need to work together.

“We absolutely understand the significance of Locomotion No 1 – emotionally and historically – to Darlington. It is important to stress to Darlington residents that the engine will only be travelling a very short distance to Shildon where it was based for almost all of its working life, and where it will be seen and enjoyed for free at Locomotion by more than 200,000 visitors every year.”


Discovering Saltburn's rich heritage . a Victorian dream.

Henry Pease, the founder of the town of Saltburn by the Sea

The resort of Saltburn by the Sea was founded by the Victorian entrepreneur Henry Pease apparently after having seen a vision. The legacy of this vision is the Station complex, Zetland Hotel, Pier, Cliff Lift and Valley Gardens as well as the so called "jewel streets" along the sea front - Amber, Pearl, Diamond, Emerald, Ruby, Coral and Garnet. Another mark of the founding family is the "Pease brick" set into many of the homes in Saltburn with the name Pease set into the very bricks of the houses. Members of this family founded the Stockton and Darlington railway and the town of Middlesbrough nearby.

The founding of Saltburn by the Sea

Before 1860 only old Saltburn existed, situated next to The Ship Inn, nestling below the cliffs. The fields surrounding Rifts House Farm, the area where Saltburn by the Sea was eventually to be developed, grew oats, beans, turnips, clover or lay fallow. The discovery and exploitation of iron ore in the mid 1800's was to make the most dramatic change in the fortunes of the Saltburn area.

In the industrial history of the 19th century the Pease family held a foremost position. For several generations in succession the name of Pease retained great pre-eminence in the industrial world of the North. Great commercial ability combined with a strong gift of foresight and an indomitable enterprise characterised both Edward Pease and his immediate descendants.

Their two most important undertakings were the coal mines in South Durham and the ironstone mines in Cleveland. In the development of the Cleveland ironstone industry they took a leading part and the first royalty taken in their name was dated in March 1852, from which time they stood at the forefront of Cleveland mine owners. The first mine which they opened was at Hutton, near Guisborough. Its total output in 1853, its first working year, was 6646 tons. In 1857, when the Hutton Mine was at its best, they acquired the Upleatham mines, said to be the largest in the kingdom, from the Derwent Iron Company. The neighbouring Hob Hill mine was opened by them in 1864. Their most extensive mine workings after Upleatham were at Skinningrove.

Henry Pease, the youngest son of Edward Pease, began his apprenticeship in a family tanning establishment in Darlington.In 1881, at the time of his death, there were still three woollen mills in Darlington belonging to the firm of Henry Pease & Co. In an article published in the 'London Society' in November 1881 Henry was described as having been 'a man of such energy of character' that he was 'not likely to escape being caught by the railway fever which raged around him' and 'no sooner had he attained his majority than he . entered heart and soul into the work of railway promotion.'

Henry Pease's name came to be connected with nearly all the lines of importance that were projected in the North of England, some of which were originated by him. From 1830-35 he was mentioned in the minute books of the S & D railway as a troubleshooter, resolving technical difficulties. For over forty years he was unremitting in his attendance in the board room of one railway company or another, his latter years being engaged principally on behalf of the North Eastern Railway Company. It is, therefore, possible to state that perhaps no man of his time had a longer or more distinguished career as a railway director.

Henry was associated with his brother, Joseph, in the founding of the Middlesbrough & Guisborough line and was the first chairman of that line. He also played an active role in the establishment of a line between Darlington and Barnard Castle and subsequently the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway. After the establishment of the latter several amalgamations were effected - at the suggestion of Henry Pease. The South Durham and Lancashire was amalgamated with the Stockton & Darlington which, together with its tributary lines, was itself absorbed into the North Eastern system.

His wider influence was felt in a number of directions. As well as being a board member of Pease & Partners in their many enterprises, eventually becoming a senior partner of the firm, he also became an MP for South Durham between 1859 to 1865 and took an active part in the Sunday Closing Bill. He owned the building firm that erected the Darlington Iron Co. and owned the brickworks that provided the white firebricks used extensively on the first buildings erected in Saltburn by the Sea. He was chairman of the Stockton & Middlesbrough Water Company and the Weardale & Shildon Water Co. He also became the first Mayor of Darlington.

Henry Pease, like his father, was also a member of the Quaker Society of Friends and of the Peace Society. As a Quaker he travelled to Russia in an attempt to stem the outbreak of war with England in 1853. As a member of the Peace Society he visited the French Emperor, Napoleon III, in 1867. Henry also visited America for three months in 1856.

Mary Pease, writing in retrospect of her husbands life, says that in 1859 Henry Pease was staying with his brother at Marske. One evening he returned late for dinner. He explained that he had walked to Saltburn and that "seated on the hillside he had seen, in a sort of prophetic vision, on the edge of the cliff before him, a town arise and the quiet unfrequented glen turned into a lovely garden." Other sources further claim that he persuaded the S & D Railway to extend their lines in order to allow him to build his visionary town. However, the railway extension to Saltburn had already received the Royal assent in the North Riding Railway Act of 23rd July 1858. Tweddell, writing in 1863, also states that the line was specifically granted 'for the transit of ironstone'. Tweddel then remarks that by 1860 the company had applied for a bill to enable them to abandon their original intention - which was that the branch was to commence from and out of a junction near Rifts House and to terminate at or near Rushpool Wood - in favour of a spot four hundred and forty yards westward of Rifts House, in a field belonging to the Earl of Zetland.

Having already opened the railway to serve the Upleatham mine, the Peases were looking at the prospects offered by the discovery of ironstone in East Cleveland. Any railway built to serve the area would be expensive to build and it is much more likely that Henry was looking for something which would defray the costs should the East Cleveland deposits prove not to be as rich as expected. Henry's visit to America had also shown him the effect of the railway in the development of towns and he hoped that the same would happen in England. As Teesside industrialisation mushroomed there were numerous people of considerable wealth who were drawn to the area who would also be in need of summer facilities for their families. Thus Henry gambled on establishing a select area to cater for the wealthy with two or three high class hotels and a number of villas for the wealthy. Henry also reasoned that should the lower paid new workers of the ironstone industry be able to afford holidays, then Saltburn could also be tailored to suit them. As excursion trains were excluded from the 5% duty levied on railfares by the 1844 Bill, Henry also reasoned that it would be possible to offer cheap excursions to his new town and the S & D railway income would not suffer.

The decision on developing Saltburn met with opposition from the S & D board - Mr George Morley of Guisborough stating that he thought it was 'a very bad speculation' for having lived in the area he thought it 'a nasty bleak cold place, and the sand is horrid'. Opposition was also encountered from others who felt that Lord Zetland should promote the development of Redcar and Marske rather than Saltburn.

Whatever objections were raised, plans went ahead and, having secured the support of the railway company, Henry Pease formed the Saltburn Improvement Company in 1859. As Lord Zetland owned the land on the clifftop the SIC approached him in 1860 offering to buy 10 acres of Penn Pasture, which formed part of Rifts Farm whose farmhouse stood where the west side of Hilda Place is now. It was to be the first of 11 lots the company would buy over the next 16 years totalling nearly 135 acres.

Whilst the offer of £120 per acre was being considered Henry Pease and Thomas McNay visited Scarborough, ostensibly to inspect the towns sewage disposal system. During this visit Henry's attention was engaged by the pleasure grounds which were being developed there and thus began his own personal passion for the development of similar grounds at Saltburn.

George Dickinson of Darlington was employed to lay out a plan of the town. The buildings had to have uniform roof lines, slate roofs, frontages of white firebricks (from the Pease's own brickworks) and no fences.

Within 20 years the main form of the town had been created including the Station Complex 1862 Valley Garden's 1861/62 Zetland Hotel 1863 (reputed to be one of the world's first purpose built railway hotels to have its own private platform), Wesleyan Chapel 1863, Pier 1869 and Cliff Hoist 1870. With the death of Henry Pease in 1881 the town's driving force was lost and soon after the Saltburn Improvement Company was disbanded.

Over the years no substantial new features were added to the resort and it became encapsulated in time as one of the finest early Victorian seaside towns surviving almost completely in its original form.

Research by Rebecca Hilton. Collecting primary source materials, articles and extracts from books related to the development of both Saltburn's and trying to validate them has offered conflicting information, much of which is often difficult to validate as many sources can prove to be unreliable e.g. newspapers or census data. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information on the history of the town presented here is as accurate as possible.

Map of the area around Rifts House farm which was eventually developed by the SIC, building Saltburn by the Sea.

In his 1863 visitors hand-book George Tweddell states that in 1858 an act was passed for extending the railway 'for the transit of ironstone etc.'

An article which appeared in the 'London Society' 1866 describing one visitors impression of Saltburn in 1866.

Leeds Mercury, Tuesday 31st May 1881 announces the death of Henry Pease who died at 5.50pm the previous evening.

The newspaper report of the proving of the will (dated Jan 20th 1859) of Henry Pease.


"Perseverance" [ edit ]

In 1829 Pease retired from the railway, whose running was taken over by his second son Joseph Pease. Joseph, like his uncle and namesake, was prominent in the anti-slavery movement and in prison reform. Δ] In 1832 he became the first Quaker to sit in Parliament.

Edward Pease had extensive connections among the Quaker banking community, which helped considerably in promoting the railway. He also invested strongly in 1823 in Stephenson's new company for building locomotives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He retired from business in 1833, but not from religious life as a Quaker.

Edward had cordial relations with Stephenson and his son Robert for the rest of his life. He died of heart failure in Darlington on 31 July 1858 and was buried in the Quaker burial-ground in Skinnergate. ΐ] Samuel Smiles described Pease as "a thoughtful and sagacious man, ready in resources, possessed of indomitable energy and perseverance." Ε] An edition of his diaries appeared in 1907. Ζ]

There is a statue of Joseph Pease in the centre of Darlington. Η]

Locomotion No 1, the first engine to haul passengers by steam on a public railway, still stands in Darlington as a monument to Edward Pease and the Stockton and Darlington Railway. On the day the foundation stone was being laid for the pedestal on which to display it, Henry Pease concluded his speech by saying "he rejoiced at seeing the first locomotive about to be placed in a suitable position, so as to hand down to posterity a memorial of one of the greatest events the civilised world ever witnessed." ⎖]


In this section &darr

Exploring the history of their locality helps students develop a sense of identity and place in the world. Delving into the past can reveal fascinating stories of the people and events that shaped their area and their own lives, fostering pride in their roots and a sense of what they can achieve. The birth of the railways is just one of the many remarkable histories from the Tees Valley.

Today we take it for granted that we can board a train and travel anywhere in the country, but in the early 1800s, inland transport was limited to horse drawn carriages and canal boats. Rail travel as we know it today began in Darlington, in 1825, where Edward Pease founded the now famous Stockton & Darlington Railway. This was the first public railway in the world.

Edward originally intended the Railway to transport coal from the collieries near Darlington to the port on the River Tees at Stockton, and planned for it to be hauled by horses. A brilliant local engineer called George Stephenson convinced him that steam locomotives could pull loads up to 50 times heavier than horses and could travel at faster speeds. Edward appointed George as his company’s chief engineer and, together with his son Robert, George designed and built the Stockton & Darlington Railway’s first engine: Locomotion 1.

Crowds of 40,000 people turned out to witness the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway on 27 September 1825. Driven by George Stephenson himself, Locomotion 1 not only hauled wagons of coal and flour, but a special carriage for passengers called Experiment. The train is thought to have reached speeds of 15 mph. The first steam powered passenger railway was born.

The early days of the Stockton & Darlington Railway were not without difficulty. The locomotives were not always reliable and Locomotion 1’s driver was killed in 1828, when its boiler exploded. Despite setbacks, the Company ensured the Railway succeeded, reducing the cost of transporting coal, transporting thousands of people and turning a profit for its owners and investors. The line was extended to Middlesbrough in 1830 and to Redcar in 1845.

Not everyone welcomed the railways. Farmers and landowners protested that they would blight the land, and could frighten the livestock, turning milk sour and stopping hens from laying. Others were concerned that the free movement of the lower classes would threaten the country’s very moral fibre!

The success of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, coupled with demand around Britain for improved transport, led to the emergence of a national network of railways. In 1844, the Railway Act ensured all railways included third class carriages and sold cheap tickets. Now people from all classes could travel further than ever before.

The railways transformed Britain and soon began to stretch around the world – much of it built from iron mined and processed in the Tees Valley. Quick, affordable transport led to the development of new industries and towns. Goods could be easily transported and people from all walks of life travelled for work, business and pleasure. The Great Exhibition in London in 1851 attracted thousands of visitors, many of them travelling on special excursion trains and, by the end of the 1800s, rail travel had opened up opportunities for day trips to football matches or out into the country, and to holidays at newly emerging seaside resorts.

Edward Pease’s Stockton & Darlington Railway was pivotal in the development of the Tees Valley as an industrial powerhouse and sparked a transport revolution that transformed the lives and fortunes of the people across the region, the country and the wider world.

Use the objects and classroom activities sections to explore this history and make links with students’ lives today.


6 Comments

They said it was because they wanted to familiarise themselves with part of the route before meeting Pease. So by doing this they could visit the bit between Stockton and Darlington (although by one account it was getting dark!). There is a version of the tale that said they thought they might also knock on the door of Raisbeck in Stockton but he wasn’t in. I doubt that somehow for all the reasons they wouldn’t have just popped in unannounced to see Pease.

Hi Matthew, Edward Pease’s House does require a bit more research. As you say he owned a lot of the properties in the town and there are two versions of that 1848 map, one of which has two properties which could be interpreted as his house. However I think we are in the right area. But I’d like to explore this in a future talk and before I do that I’d like to read the very difficult to get hold of publication published by the local history society. Tackling Pease’s house is part of the Heritage Action Zone Development Plan so there is a commitment to doing something, but obviously it is still in private ownership. Personally I’d like to see a partial restoration of his gardens to the rear too but that would mean losing a car park in Garden Street which would go down like a lead balloon amongst car drivers. And that end of town is already struggling. Generally regarding Garden Street and Pease’s house – the council are supportive.

Thanks Paul. I think it is important as we approach 2025 and the bicentenary that we make as much as possible of the influence of the Tyneside Coalfield to the development of the railway so that in doing so we encourage visitors to travel throughout the NE not just along the S&DR corridor.


Why is Hackworth not as well-known as George Stephenson?

The two men did have similarities—they were both born in Wylam, both held jobs at the colliery, both invented significant safety devices (Stephenson's safety lamp and Hackworth's spring-loaded safety valves).

Their differences were obvious though.

Hackworth was interested in steam machinery and worked on locomotives, while Stephenson was surveying and building railways such as the S&DR and the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.

Stephenson grew up poor and illiterate, eventually learning to read, write and carry out work with steam machinery in the colliery.

Hackworth was taught at an early age and carried out an apprenticeship, eventually taking over his father’s high-ranking role of Foreman of the Smiths at the colliery.

Perhaps it’s Stephenson’s rags-to-riches story that has captured people's imaginations over Hackworth's more conventional path. Rocket's win at the Rainhill Trials also cemented the Stephenson name in the public mind—even if everyone forgets which Stephenson built the locomotive!

Regardless, Hackworth was an important force in the nascent railway industry in County Durham.


Responsible Government

PEASE , EDSON LOY , banker b. 2 Sept. 1856 in Coteau-Landing, Lower Canada, son of Orton Pease and Mary Hare m. 24 April 1883 Diana Ann Rea in Montreal, and they had two sons, and a daughter who died young d. 29 Dec. 1930 in Nice, France.

Edson Pease, the 12th of 14 children, was born into the world of the “commercial empire of the St Lawrence.” His father, a native of Massachusetts, had immigrated to Lower Canada in 1823. He settled in Coteau-Landing, on the shores of the St Lawrence River, where he prospered as a shoemaker, general merchant, and real estate investor, and served as town treasurer. Pease Street and Pease’s Wharf bespoke the family’s commercial prowess in the small town. The arterial commerce of the great river shaped Edson’s world-view. Since his eldest brother, Charles, had joined his father in the general store, Edson was obliged to seek wider horizons. A boyhood friend, Charles Rudolph Hosmer, had found employment as a telegraph operator with the Grand Trunk Railway. Pease followed the example, joining a telegraph company in Ogdensburg, N.Y., in 1873 or 1874.

Commerce on the St Lawrence River and the technological reach of the telegraph drew Pease out of rural Canada and prepared him for entry into the emerging urban professional class. On 24 April 1875 he joined the Montreal branch of the Toronto-based Canadian Bank of Commerce as a clerk. In 1881 he was promoted to the inspectors’ department of the bank. Promising young bankers were made inspectors, a role that required them to police a bank’s entire branch system for conformity to the procedures of the head office. Confederation had enabled the disjointed colonial banking systems of British North America to consolidate into a federalized system based on Scottish branch banking. The process was by no means smooth regionally tied small banks were prone to collapse, often provoked by the narrow base of their business or by the loose regulatory and procedural framework in which they worked.

Typical of this pattern was the Merchants’ Bank of Halifax. Since obtaining a federal charter in 1869, it had cautiously built up a network of 25 branches throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Bad loans to Nova Scotian steel producers and sugar refiners in the early 1880s and a defalcation in 1882 of its cashier (general manager) had checked the bank’s progress [see David Hunter Duncan*] and revealed its precarious regional base.

The Merchants’ president, Thomas Edward Kenny*, was inclined to aggressive expansion as an antidote to regional stagnation. Breadth of operation would induce stability. To pursue this strategy he needed new talent. Accordingly, on 18 Jan. 1883 the bank hired Pease as accountant at its main branch in Halifax at an annual salary of $3,000. Pease’s initial task was to implement consistent procedures throughout the bank, thereby preventing further defalcation and ensuring standard loan practices as well as rigorous staff training. Pease soon revealed his true genius – as a strategist of the bank’s continental and international expansion and as a progressive innovator of bank procedure.

Pease’s innovations met with some resistance from a few of the bank’s more conservative directors. In 1887 they opposed his move to open a branch in Montreal in order to place the Merchants’ on the doorstep of the westward-oriented national economy. Pease’s determination and the backing he received from Kenny helped carry the day. He became the branch’s manager, at an annual salary of $3,500. He energetically sought business clients in the city. The St Lawrence Sugar Refining Company Limited, metal fabricator Drummond, McCall and Company [see George Edward Drummond*], newspaper proprietor Hugh Graham*, and financier Louis-Joseph Forget* were typical of his early acquisitions. Pease’s friendship with Hosmer, now head of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s telegraph department, gave him an entrée to the city’s commercial elite. Pease also pushed the bank’s retail business across the island of Montreal, establishing branches on Rue Notre-Dame and in the emerging affluent suburb of Côte-Saint-Antoine, which would soon become the town of Westmount. Pease struck correspondence agreements with other Canadian and American banks so as to expand the circulation of its notes, hired new staff, including the bank’s first French Canadians, and modernized its procedures and facilities, largely along American lines (including spacious, airy bank interiors). Still small in comparison with its large competitors, such as the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Merchants’ Bank was nonetheless by the late 1890s a national bank, with assets of $17,102,000, 42 branches, and by 1899 a steady seven per cent dividend on common shares.

Success in Montreal fanned Pease’s expansionistic instincts. Reluctant to compete with the more established banks in their base of central Canada, he looked to new frontiers. In 1897, egged on by Hosmer, he visited the interior of British Columbia and quickly opened branches in Rossland and Nelson to tap their thriving mining economies. Two years later a branch was established just over the border in the boom town of Republic, Wash., where Montreal firms had mining interests. By 1908 there were 21 branches in British Columbia, coordinated from a regional head office in Vancouver. The bank’s experience in financing the movement of Maritime trade in fish, timber, and sugar opened the way to international expansion. Shortly after American troops moved into Havana, Cuba, in 1898, Pease arrived to explore the city. Joined by other Canadian entrepreneurs such as Sir William Cornelius Van Horne* of Montreal and David MacKeen* and Benjamin Franklin Pearson* of Halifax, Pease saw opportunity in post-bellum Cuba. The movement of Cuban sugar to market required forward financing (loans for planting and transportation costs to be repaid on the delivery of sugar to market). In 1899 a branch was opened in New York City to handle the American end of sugar deals. That same year another was established in Havana, followed by a succession of branches in sugar-producing provinces such as Camagüey and Oriente (Santiago de Cuba), usually not far from Van Horne’s Cuba Railroad. By 1923 a peak of 65 Cuban branches would be reached. Other branches in the Caribbean and South America included Puerto Rico (1907), Jamaica (1911), Brazil (1919), and Panama (1929). To complement this expansion, Pease directed the opening of branches in the financial centres of Europe: London (1910), Barcelona (1918), and Paris (1919). By 1928 the bank was Canada’s leading overseas banker with 121 branches in 28 countries. Such was Pease’s instinct for opportunity that in 1919 a branch was even temporarily opened in Vladivostok in revolutionary Siberia, where the Canadian government had sent trade commissioners, sensing possibilities for commerce. Through all this expansion, Pease became an inveterate traveller. Tellers in the bank’s main branch at Montreal, for instance, relished the Cuban cigars which he freely distributed on his return from the south.

Pease’s orchestration of the bank’s expansion out of the Maritimes brought him corporate preferment. In 1899 he was promoted joint general manager, sharing the post with the more conservative David Hunter Duncan, who anchored the Merchants’ head office in Halifax. Duncan’s retirement at the end of 1899 left Pease in sole command and opened the way to more change. Backed by Kenny, Pease argued that the bank needed a more cosmopolitan image and in 1901 the Merchants’ Bank of Halifax became the Royal Bank of Canada (a name reminiscent of the venerable Royal Bank of Scotland). Montreal became the bank’s de facto centre of operations with Pease in charge. In 1907 the bank’s head office was officially moved to Montreal and Pease joined the board of directors. A year later the bank began adopting North American banking nomenclature to replace the British terminology it had used since its establishment and Pease became a vice-president. Following Kenny’s death in 1908, Pease recruited Herbert Samuel Holt*, a successful railway contractor and rising promoter of utilities, to the Royal’s presidency. Holt’s role was largely titular he provided the bank with a dynamic image. Pease was by now the bank’s undisputed strategist and senior executive.

Sensing the opportunities of the economic boom during Sir Wilfrid Laurier*’s second term as prime minister, Pease determined to complement the bank’s nascent overseas expansion with vigorous national growth. Constrained by the slowness of natural growth (dictated by laborious training of new staff and the expense of head-to-head competition with other banks), Pease opted for an energetic policy of growth by merger. Mergers with smaller, regionally based banks provided two immediate advantages: enhanced regional penetration and the acquisition of reliable, trained staff. Between 1910 and 1925 he engineered five such mergers, all initiated by the Royal. Acquisition of the Union Bank of Halifax in 1910 consolidated the bank’s base in the Maritimes. The merger with the Toronto-based Traders’ Bank of Canada in 1912 brought strength in Ontario, and the addition in 1917 of the Quebec Bank solidified the Royal’s ascendance in Anglo-Quebec commerce. The merger with the Northern Crown Bank in 1918 allowed the Royal to flesh out its network on the prairies. The last and largest merger – with 217 branches of the Union Bank of Canada in 1925 – was conceived by Pease and executed by his successor, Charles Ernest Neill. When called before a committee of the House of Commons in 1913 to justify his bank’s aggressive expansion, Holt had read a statement prepared for him by Pease in which he stated that mergers removed “weak banks,” enhanced economies of scale, and stabilized national banking. “In union there is strength,” he concluded. Pease’s policy of mergers vaulted the Royal ahead of its competitors. After the merger with the Union Bank of Canada, the Royal surpassed the Bank of Montreal as Canada’s largest bank in terms of both branches (922 by the end of 1925) and assets ($788,000,000). While other banks emulated Pease’s strategy, none enjoyed such success in making their operations so solidly national.

Pease’s role as the architect of the Royal’s forceful evolution was acknowledged in several ways. In 1916 he assumed the title of managing director and chief executive officer of the bank at an annual salary of $45,000. The same year he began a three-year term as the president of the Canadian Bankers’ Association. With his usual progressive fervour, he used the office to question the underpinnings of credit creation in Canada. Before World War I, Canadian banks extended credit in the form of their banknotes and loans on the basis of the reserves they held in gold or dominion notes. This process was self-regulating, expansive in good economic times, contractive in recessionary times. The outbreak of war and the suspension of the gold standard disrupted the system. In 1914 Pease and other general managers helped finance minister William Thomas White* fashion temporary state intervention in the creation of credit. The Finance Act of 1914 allowed Ottawa to advance moneys to the commercial banks, thereby facilitating the expansion of credit in abnormal times. Pease favoured extension of the state’s ability to “rediscount” commercial bank credit, a mechanism he argued would stimulate post-war recovery. He patterned his suggestion on the newly created federal reserve banks in the United States and first presented it at the annual meeting of the Royal Bank in early 1918 before taking it to the council of the Canadian Bankers’ Association and to White later that same year. A CBA committee, advised by Toronto corporate lawyer Zebulon Aiton Lash*, studied the proposition. The idea was stiffly opposed by the Bank of Montreal, which saw in it an end to its long-standing role as the government’s banker. Other bankers argued that a government-run central bank would throw the creation of credit open to political manipulation. In 1919 the status quo prevailed and the Finance Act of 1914 was extended into peacetime. When national credit failed catastrophically in the Great Depression and thinking again turned to the need for a central bank, Pease’s initiative would be revisited in 1933 during the hearings of the royal commission on banking and currency in Canada.

Pease’s aggressive pursuit of corporate expansion and his championing of ideas viewed by most Canadian bankers as iconoclastic indelibly stamped him as an outsider intent on shifting the centre of the Canadian banking establishment. Ill at ease in the stuffy social milieu of Montreal banking, he took a leading role in creating the Mount Bruno Country Club, south of the city. In the 1890s he had joined a property association at Mont Saint-Bruno and by the 1920s had helped to turn it into an exclusive golf and country retreat for the anglophone elite of Montreal who felt unwelcome at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. Pease himself built a large home there in 1922, close to neighbours such as the Birks and Drummond families. Pease was not, in fact, an ardent golfer. He was elected honorary president of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association in 1910, but had few leisure activities besides cigar smoking and a penchant for practical jokes. His personal and family life was always secondary to his devotion to banking. A Presbyterian by birth, he displayed little interest in religion as an adult. By the 1920s his addiction to the Royal’s affairs began to exact its toll. His constitution weakened and his hearing began to fail. The death of his wife in 1922, followed by that of his youngest son in 1923, eroded his family life. In 1922 he resigned his executive functions with the bank, retaining only his vice-presidency and directorship. Nonetheless, he remained an important figure in the bank’s affairs, one frequently consulted by Neill, his successor as chief executive officer.

A lifelong Conservative, Pease was a confidant of prominent politicians such as Sir Robert Laird Borden*, Sir William Thomas White, and Richard Bedford Bennett*. Nonetheless, like his colleagues at the head of the other Canadian banks, he downplayed any public demonstration of his sympathies for the Conservatives. His great achievement was to have been seen as a reliable oracle for banking and monetary advice by both Conservative and Liberal finance ministers. In retirement he was wooed by the Liberals. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King* considered him for a senatorship and the ambassadorship in Washington. In the fall of 1930 Pease left Montreal to winter on the French Riviera. There, the manager of the Royal’s Paris branch found him “a lonely, sick man, but lion-hearted withal.” Pease insisted that a photograph depicting him with a cigar and tennis racket in hand be dispatched to the head office. After his death in Nice in late December, his body was returned to Canada to be buried high in Mount Royal Cemetery in a plot that overlooked the St Lawrence.

The term “revolutionize” cannot usually be comfortably applied to Canadian banking’s careful evolution, but Edson Pease had forced the pace of change more than any other Canadian banker. He had built a regional institution into Canada’s leading domestic and international bank and at the same time had provoked broad and prescient discussion about the fundamental tenets of Canadian banking.

The Royal Bank of Canada Arch. (Montreal) contains extensive material on Edson Loy Pease’s association with the bank from 1875 to 1930. The following records were used in the preparation of this biography: RBC 2, 25 54 1 (corporate personnel) 30G 1-6 (chairman and president files) 43G PeaE (biog. file) 43S PeaE 1–2 (speeches) and 46B (RBC Hist. Project files). Of particular relevance for Pease’s campaign to promote a central bank in Canada are the papers of bank executive Solomon Randolph Noble (RBC 2, 29A 3 2, 29A 14, and 29A 17). Additional references to Pease, such as those found in staff reminiscence files and in the Royal Bank Magazine (Montreal), may be searched by computer. The archives also holds numerous photographs of Pease.

The papers of Sir Robert Laird Borden (NA, MG 26, H), Sir Richard Bedford Bennett (NA, MG 26, K), and Sir William Thomas White (NA, MG 27, II, D18) contain correspondence with Pease. The Canadian Bankers’ Assoc. (Toronto) has materials in its archives relating to Pease’s presidency of the association from 1916 to 1919 and on his role in representing the Royal Bank of Canada on its council. For Pease’s place in the larger context of Canadian banking, see Z. A. Lash, “The United States Federal Reserve Act and the Canadian banking system, with some contrasts,” Canadian Bankers’ Assoc., Journal (Toronto), 26 (1918–19): 224–44 Duncan McDowall, Quick to the frontier: Canada’s Royal Bank (Toronto, 1993) and R. C. McIvor, Canadian monetary, banking and fiscal development (Toronto, 1958).

ANQ-M, CE601-S115, 24 avril 1883 CE607-S44, 21 sept. 1856. Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan 1912)


Shildon, the Cradle of the Railways and Locomotion No.1

On 27 September 1825 a small steam locomotive coupled up to a train at Shildon in County Durham. There were officially around 300 ticket holders but many more—possibly twice as much again—had jumped on board. As the train headed eastwards to the port of Stockton, huge crowds gathered to watch its progress. This was a momentous day indeed for this was the first steam-hauled passenger train on a public railway, a journey that would change the world forever.

Oil painting by Terence Cuneo, 1949. The Stockton & Darlington Railway was the world’s first steam-hauled passenger public railway. It was built under the guidance of chief engineer George Stephenson (1781-1848), to link collieries in West Durham and Darlington with the docks on the River Tees at Stockton in Durham. At the opening on 27 September 1825, large crowds saw Stephenson at the controls of ‘Locomotion’, the locomotive built for the railway by Robert Stephenson & Co, as it pulled 36 wagons to the Stockton terminus

Named Locomotion, the locomotive on that historic day had been the first to be built at the celebrated Stephenson works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, but for its working life it was indelibly associated with Shildon—the world’s first railway town—where it will return for the first time in over 150 years as part of ambitious plans to redevelop the town’s railway museum, itself named Locomotion after the history-making locomotive.

Locomotion was not the first steam locomotive, nor did it possess innovative technology. Its significance and fame rests with its involvement on that September day in 1825. However, it also enjoyed a lengthy career on the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) where it was directly associated with Shildon for the majority of its working life. This may come as a surprise to some as the name of the railway on which the locomotive served was, of course, S&DR even though the line itself began near Shildon some distance west of both Darlington and Stockton.

Locomotion in action on the S&DR during the 1925 celebrations

Shildon played a key role in the history of the S&DR beyond that opening day, serving as the company’s locomotive headquarters for most of its existence. However, the story could have been very different. The S&DR’s commitment to steam locomotion was by no means certain with many trains in normal service being horse-drawn. Steam locomotion was at that time unreliable but all that was to change when the company’s resident engineer Timothy Hackworth developed more consistent steam locomotives at his Shildon base.

Hackworth, who remained the resident engineer of the S&DR until 1840, also established his own Soho Locomotive Works at Shildon in 1833. The Shildon Soho works earned a worldwide reputation and provided some of the earliest locomotives to operate beyond the UK including in countries such as Canada and Russia. It was also at Shildon that Hackworth pioneered new innovations in locomotive repair and manufacturing, setting a template of railway works that endures to this day.

Marker stone to commemorate the town of Shildon as ‘the cradle of the railways’, 2004. It stands close to the site of the ‘Mason Arms Level Crossing’ on the original course of the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The crossing marked the end of the Brusselton east incline. The crossing remained in use until the closure of Shildon Works in 1984

Moreover, Shildon developed the culture, traditions and working practices of the ‘railwayman’. As LTC Rolt has written, ‘these first railwaymen, the pioneers…with no precedents whatever to guide them…had to learn by bitter trial and error how to run a railway. In a few years, when railways began to spread across the world, the men trained in the first hard school at Shildon went with them, proud masters of the mysteries of a new power.’

For these pioneers this could also be a dangerous profession. In 1828 Locomotion itself was badly damaged when its boiler exploded, killing its driver John Cree. Locomotion was rebuilt under Hackworth’s supervision at Shildon and its current appearance owes more to this Shildon rebuild than how the locomotive looked on the opening day of the S&DR.

Locomotion continued in the service of the S&DR until 1850 before a short spell as a stationary pumping engine on the West Collieries in the South Durham coalfield, but its fame saw it preserved for posterity and it now forms part of the National Collection—under the direction of the Science Museum Group—alongside such other famous locomotives as Rocket, City of Truro, Mallard and Flying Scotsman.

And what of Shildon? The town continued to overhaul and maintain all the locomotives of the S&DR until the new North Road Works at Darlington opened in January 1863. Locomotive construction ceased in Shildon in 1867 and four years later, in 1871, locomotive repair work also transferred to Darlington—by which time the S&DR itself had passed into history having been subsumed by the North Eastern Railway.

By this time the unbroken connection of Shildon as the base of the S&DR’s locomotives stretched back directly to Locomotion almost half a century before. However, that was not an end to Shildon’s railway story. The site of the locomotive works took on a new lease of life building and repairing railway wagons. So successful did these works become that it was, for a time, the world’s largest manufacturer of wagons.

Wagon frames being manufactured at the North Eastern Railway’s Shildon works, County Durham, about 1910

In 1875 the 50 th anniversary of the opening of the S&DR was celebrated with a number of events large and small. Shildon, somewhat controversially, was largely overlooked as a focus of the celebrations. As one contemporary commentator opined: “It might occur to some minds that Shildon, as being the nursery-ground of the Iron Horse should have been more honoured than by the Tea and Muffin struggle…for was it not the place,—we may say the cradle,—“that bore the fates,” not of Rome but the whole world, a proud distinction for Shildon.”

On 31 August 1975 that slight was righted when a cavalcade of locomotives departed from Shildon’s wagon works to mark the approaching 150 th anniversary of the S&DR. With huge crowds and high national interest the cavalcade proved to be one of the UK’s most popular spectator events that year. As the original Locomotion was too fragile to operate, a working replica was commissioned. It was this replica that was chosen to lead the cavalcade again cementing the importance of Shildon in the story of both the S&DR and of Locomotion itself.

Slide showing the replica Locomotion No.1 at Shildon, 1975

In 1984, less than a decade after that momentous August day, the Shildon Wagon Works closed for good thus bringing to an end over 150 years of continuous rail vehicle maintenance and construction. The opening of a new railway museum, appropriately named Locomotion, in 2004 helped give back the town’s railway identity.

The return of Locomotion to Shildon is part of an exciting redevelopment of a museum that will celebrate the history of the world’s first railway town and its role in the first steam-hauled passenger railway, a journey that began in the town almost two centuries ago when Locomotion coupled onto a train and steamed into history.

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Andrew McLean

Andrew is the National Railway Museum's Assistant Director and Head Curator, responsible for storing, conserving and bringing to life our collection items.


Discovering Saltburn's rich heritage and varied history.

Alpha Place

In 1863 the cliff tops overlooking the old fisher cottages of Saltburn were mostly given over to pasture, with some crops of oats, beans, clover and turnips also being grown in rotation. On a cold January morning of that same year everything was to change as one Victorian entrepreneurs dream to turn a smuggler's hideaway - 'a row of dirty derelict cottages whose broken and musty windows, like blind eyes, stare cheerlessly out to sea' - into a prestigious seaside resort, was about to be realised.

The Foundation Stone is Laid.

On a cold January morning in 1861 a small group of individuals gathered together on the clifftop overlooking the old fishing hamlet of Saltburn.

At the centre of this group was one Henry Pease, of Stanhope Castle and Pierremont, in Darlington, the youngest son of Edward "father of the railways" Pease. Surrounded by two Darlington architects, two Cleveland builders and their bricklayers, Henry Pease laid the foundation stone and the building of Saltburn's first street, named Alpha Place, was begun.

It had been agreed to run the railway to the rear of the Zetland Hotel, to be built on a pre-eminent site overlooking the bay. This effectively split the future town and Milton and Dundas Streets were laid out on either side of the railway.

Alpha Place, a block of white bricked terraced houses, was situated alongside the railway with its front facing what became the railway excursion platform and its rear across the ends of Ruby and Garnet Streets, and was erected by the S & D Railway to house their employees. The Saltburn and Guisbro' Times (4th May 1901) states that William Peachy, architect, laid the first brick two months before the formal ceremony on 23rd January 1861, when Henry Pease layed the official foundation stone. As the town had neither a station nor Post Office when the street was complete the two houses at the east of Alpha Place were used until permanent buildings became available, Mr Arthur Brown being both Stationmaster and Postmaster.

At the beginning of the 1900's the local council wished to purchase Alpha Place from the NE Railway Company for demolition as its situation prevented the development of Milton Street as a main thoroughfare. Discussions had taken place in 1896 but a high asking price meant that the idea was vetoed. By 1901 the original figure of £1650 was dropped to £1360. The council bought it and demolition took place in November. It can be determined where Alpha Place stood, as the block between Garnet and Ruby Streets is the only one with an alley actually meeting Milton Street.

In 1935, when the Assembly Rooms were being extended to form the Spa Pavilion, the foundation plaque of Alpha Place was discovered amongst rubble on the site and was placed in the offices of the Saltburn and Marske Urban District Council in Albion Terrace. It was later built into the wall of Marine Court together with its own foundation stone which was laid by Sir Alfred Pease in 1961, the town's centenary year.

Report from the Darlington and Stockton Times January 1861

Commemorative memorial for Alpha Place

Local Historian Tony Lynn, supported by Callum Duff, initiated the process of designing and building a permanent memorial to Saltburn's first houses at Alpha Place. The memorial and plaque used reclaimed materials and the structure is faced with white Pease bricks. The plaque was unveiled in August 2012 and is sited on the north side of Sainsbury's car park.

The Saltburn by the Sea Galop

As performed by Herr Franz Groening's Military Band at the Promenade Concert, Saltburn by the Sea

This piece of music was written for Saltburn in 1876 and has probably not been performed since. Written for the piano, the sheet music was owned by the late Brian Kennedy and may be the only copy still in existence.


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